French Radio London interview - Chronique Gastronomie

During the holidays, the medieval Cité de Carcassonne quiets down a lot.  The best restaurants stay open year-round because they cater to local clients and can stay open even during the slowed down winter months.  We had a marvelous dinner a few nights ago at La Barbacane, the Michelin starred restaurant in l’Hotel de la Cité.

barbacane piano lounge and barHotel de la Cité – La Barbacane

We got there a little early (typical Americans) and chilled out in the Piano Lounge / Library area (where the bar is).  They started me off with a nice glass of sparkling rosé from Castelmaure while we waited for our hosts, the Lablaudes.  We nibbled on lucques (local olives) and a few exotic tidbits to start us (e.g. endives, anchovies, radishes, trout egg).  Everything was light and fun and made us hungry for more as we lounged about in the piano bar enjoying the live music.

Jérome Ryon, the chef, and Georges Gracia, the manager and sommelier, guided us through a wonderful and surprising meal.

jack be little - stuffed gourd at l'hotel de la cité barbacane restaurantWe started with a shrimp-stuffed jack be little, a small yellow-orange gourd.  It looks like a tiny pumpkin (think bell pepper-sized).  It was a hefty appetizer but I can deal with a little heft.  And it paired wonderfully with a surprising Chenin blanc from Saumur that really cut through the fattier elements of the jack be little.  Truly tasty.  Next up, scallops on a thin pastry garnished in some sort of wonderful sauces and paired with a blend from Rives Blanques.  The dish was garnered with some cabbage and quince confit.  And then duck as the plat de resistance paired with a robust Minervois from Chateau Oupia.

And we finished off with a nice citron sorbet and a startling white from Maury.

Everything was fresh and top notch.

La Barbacane sometimes gets pigeonholed as the more conservative fine dining destination in Carcassonne, with a greater focus on traditional haute cuisine.   But this meal showed that Jérome is very creative when you give him room to breathe.

The wine list

We started off with a sparkling rosé from Castelmaure.

  • AOC Saumur Domaine du Collier 2005 “A Foucault” à Chacé
  • AOC Limoux Chateau Rives-Blanques 2009 Cuvée “La Trilogie” à Cépie
  • AOC Minervois Chateau Oupia 2007 Cuvée Mémoire d’André Famille André Iché

And we finished off with a surprising white from Maury.

Of course, as a wine nerd, one of the coolest parts of the meal is to see how Georges Gracia pairs the various courses with wines.  He chose a lot from the region because he knows how I roll, but he also gave me at least one surprise from the Loire.  And what a surprise!  We started and ended with whites from regions that are much more known for their red wines: Saumur and Maury.  And I have to say I’m very pleased with both.  The Saumur was Chenin although I wouldn’t have guessed that blind.  It had sort of a burnt pear nose that was pretty restrained and then a really intereting body.  I think it was perfect to start off the meal and cut through some of the fat on the pumpkin.  The Maury at the end was a real shocker too.  Delicious sweet wine that could compete with this very tart citron sorbet.  Any wine lovers who eat at the Cité should try to get one of the very talented sommeliers to guide them through a meal.  It’s a real experience for any foodie.

“Même si on est un peu Américain en cave, on est très Français dans la vigne.”

wine tasting for the "languedoc outsiders" groupWhile I was in London for the Languedoc Outsiders Tasting, I got interviewed by Marie Lahetjuzan with French Radio London.  It was a very fun interview at the end of a long day of tasting and you all know how I can get chatty (especially in front of a charming girl).  So they did a marvelous job of editing me down to fit into the time slot of her chronique on gastronomie, “A Table”.

If you understand French, then you can enjoy this mp3 of me stumbling through the interview that aired a couple times last week.


A Table avec Ryan O’Connell – source file

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards is just a few kilometres north of Carcassonne. GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Domaine O’Vineyards
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou until the D118 (the last straight road) and the Dyneff gas station on the roundabout.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which goes up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire.
  4. At the last juction, bear left at the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.